Ten days in office for [Botswana] President Mokgweetsi Masisi launched a blood shell on Caprivian refugees in his country during his purposeful official visit to Namibia to meet his counterpart President Hage Geingob.
We did not plan that we should be called refugees; neither did we choose voluntarily when we were running into Botswana around 1998 to 2000. We were just running with our lives in bare hands because the political situation was not warranting for all of us to stay in the Caprivi Strip, which is forcefully occupied by Namibia.
It is an open secret that we were given political asylum with our leaders, Mishake Muyongo, Chief Bebi Mamili, three councillors, the late John Mabuku, the late Francis Sizimbo, Mr. Walubita and many others.
It was Botswana, under then President Festus Mogae, that welcomed us. It is true that the first group that came were carrying arms of war, which were handed to the Botswana authority.
Thereafter, masses crossed into Botswana. All the people who crossed into Botswana were interviewed by the authorities and were registered members of the political party, United Democratic Party (UDP).
In our first meeting in 1999 when we met the then Namibian Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo, we indicated categorically that we want a solution to our problem so that we can return home earlier and peacefully. In four months’ time, we would have been refugees in your country for 20 years. We never intended to be refugees.We were first granted political asylum, which later changed to refugee status. This Republic best knows the reasons for the difference between the two and for the change.
Mr. President, a beggar is not a chooser. You gave us without force, but because of the situation that you saw. When you take your status from us, we shall remain human beings first, as created by God in his very image and then as Caprivians who deserve to live like any human beings. It is true that though you are President, you are still a human being created in the image of God.
Your, Excellency, since our arrival in this Republic we have tried our best to behave ourselves. Those who were found on the wrong side of the law were dealt with according to the law without favour.
Mr. President, we regret to learn that while you were visiting Namibia and you spoke to your colleague, President Geingob, and made your mainly about us. You spoke against us as if we have committed a crime in your country. Many times we have reiterated that we want to go home peacefully. We don’t deserve to be bundled in your trucks for deportation, as you seem to plan. We have a problem that we told you and well known by President Geingob. Now that we are no longer refugees, we have become illegal immigrants in the Republic of Botswana. You legalised our stay in this country for 20 years, now you are planning to deport us.
Mr. President, we note that there existed a Tripartite Commission where Namibia, Botswana and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were the facilitators with regard to the Caprivian refugees in Botswana. We are glad to note that it no longer exists because it was biased and irrelevant, as it could not come up to the solution in our case. Our issue is a political case, a treasonous issue according to Namibia and therefore the involvement of UNHCR was quite irrelevant and a misappropriation of responsibilities.
Mr. President, we do not practice politics in the refugee camp and on Botswana soil. However, we belong to a political party as mentioned above. We are a law-abiding community and so we keep the standard you want us to keep. Your Excellency, I think you learnt something during your conversation with President Geingob. He warned that those who have political agendas are not welcome to Namibia and we have no doubt that he meant us, UDP people in Botswana.
We have a message to His Excellency President Masisi and His Excellency Dr. Geingob. We put it to you that as leaders you have the capacity to resolve the Caprivi issue politically in a peaceful way. We put it to you that we believe in resolving political problems peacefully as peaceful people. We also trust that you know that dialogue to disputes is the necessary tool than shutting up people, dividing, oppressing and ruling them.
Your Excellences, the Caprivi issue shall not be resolved by deporting us, putting us in prisons, threats of any kind, torture or even killing us all in exile. God who created you, gave you the authority, the same God who created us, will do what is right between us and you, because to God we are all his children despite the authority you have.
Many Caprivians lost their lives both in exile under SWAPO and also in this exile. Be reminded again that we have thus far lost more than 400 people buried in Dukwi alone.
You want us to be holding arms, fighting every day, innocent people and children dying like what is happening in other countries? Is that when you will believe that we are serious? We are determined never to procrastinate this struggle to the next generation. It is do or die now and never tomorrow.
Felix Kakula is a spokesperson of the group calling itself Caprivians, based in Dukwi, Botswana. This letter has been shortened for space. [newera.com.na]
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